CincySTEM Urban Initiative
Project CincySTEM will enhance cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for minority students enrolled in the new Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over a three-year period, the project will directly impact more than 900 minority students through CincySTEM activities (around big ideas such as energy) that focus on increasing the knowledge and skills of students in STEM and about STEM careers, particularly in science. These activities will follow an interdisciplinary approach, use the 5E learning cycle instructional model, and adhere to the Ohio Academic Content Standards Benchmarks and Grade Level Indicators. CincySTEM will enhance teaching and learning through inquiry-based labs using high-tech tools such as digital video cameras, hand-held iPod touches, TI Inspire Graphing calculators, Water Quality LabPro Starter Kits, Davis Wireless Weather Stations, and ProScope HR digital microscopes. These devices will enable students to shoot and edit video, calculate and analyze live data, and design and present information via a website from any location, including real-world STEM work environments in partner institutions and agencies. To prepare teachers for this STEM-based technology-rich curriculum, ongoing professional development will be provided through the FUSION Professional Practice and Demonstration Laboratory, housed at the STEM high school, which bridges pre- and in-service teacher education activities in a real school setting. The leadership team has a wealth of experiences in science and mathematics, STEM education and education research, urban education, teachers and teaching, classroom dynamics, partnerships, and curriculum and instruction. Four experienced lead teachers will work with the 18 science teachers to implement the CincySTEM activities. Two of lead teachers have been released full-time by the district to work on this project. The research will explore what ways, if any, does the CincySTEM initiative in the context of a new STEM high school have a positive impact on the development of STEM knowledge, skills, and interest in STEM careers for students participating in the project. Assessment and evaluation will involve qualitative and quantitative methods, measures, and modes of analysis, including classroom observations; interviews (teachers, students, and partners); student work; lesson plans and e-portfolios; and descriptive statistics (Chi-square, pre-post t-tests, ANOVA). Since all teachers and students will be impacted by this project, standardized test scores from other district high schools will be used for comparison. CincySTEM will advance discovery and understanding in the field while promoting, teaching, training, and learning through its rich curriculum. It targets underserved students, provides access to a rigorous course of study, and links STEM activities to workforce development through multiple STEM expert partners (e.g., Environmental Engineering Technology and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy departments at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; science and mathematics education, chemistry, biology, engineering, and mathematics schools and departments at the University of Cincinnati; the Vice President for Educational Solutions at the The Primax Group; and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative). Dissemination will be addressed through school and state affiliations (e.g., Ohio STEM Learning Network), print and electronic media, and professional outlets.